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Impaired Set-Shifting; or, why I'm a total spaz at work

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:05pm
Yes, yet another whiny post about my (soon-to-be-ending) lackluster career.

So my closest coworker- in terms of distance and time spent together, NOT favorite person wise- can multi -task like no other. Me? If I'm told more than one thing at a time, I go haywire. My brain just doesn't like it. I can email and do work at the same time, which basically means I check my email and can make it look like I'm working. I have to listen to music when I work because it drowns out all of the background noise. Being a trained pianist, I quite like the music and have gotten accustomed to it.

The real grate, however, comes when my boss rattles off this huuuuuuuge list of things to do to my co-worker and I. She just ticks all the items off her to-do list, and I'm left floundering after task one. I just can't switch between tasks very well.

Then, in my regular perusals of ED research, I find this article : Impaired "Set-Shifting" in Anorexia Nervosa . Basically, set-shifting is the ability to transition between several different sets of tasks. People with impaired set-shifting have higher rates of obsessionality . Which sort of goes to figure, since obsessions mean you focus on one thing. I know you can extrapolate research too far, but I also find it odd that I listen to the same band for ages and ages before I get into another phase. Plenty of people do this, but for some reason, I only want to listen to one band, or one type of music, for upwards of a year. Yes, there are variations. Even I would get bored of the same album for an entire year. Maybe this has something to do with set-shifting; maybe it doesn't. But people have always called me incredibly focused.

Take that as you will.

Even knowing and understanding this, I still have issues with my coworker. First off, she was one of the original Weight Watchers Queens. I am jealous of her. I am. She gets to lose weight (and be complimented for it); I have to gain. Yippee. She's my boss' favorite in terms of work completed; I need constant reminders to keep my head screwed on straight. She has a boyfriend; I don't. She has friends; I don't. I know I have plenty of good qualities, but sometimes I just want to do this whole little toddler thing and go: It's NOT FAIR!

Of course it's not. We all want life to be fair, for good people to get good things and bad people to get bad. But no one is entirely good or entirely bad. Hence the phrase: shit happens.

But knowing, at least on some level, why I need to be told only one task at a time helps not only my self-esteem, but my ability to tell people what I need.

One thing at a time, people. One thing at a time.
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